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30 of the best movies on Netflix right now

What’s the best movie I can watch on Netflix? We’ve all asked ourselves the question, only to spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through the streaming service’s oddly specific genre menus and getting overwhelmed by the constantly shifting trend menus. Netflix’s huge catalog of movies, combined with its inscrutable recommendations algorithm, can make finding something to watch feel more like a chore than a way to unwind when really what you want is the good movies — no, the best movies.

We’re here to help. For those suffering from choice paralysis in May, we’ve narrowed down your options to 30 of our favorite current movies on the platform. These run the gamut from taut thrillers and horror classics to eccentric comedies and the best Netflix originals. We’ll be updating this list monthly as Netflix cycles movies in and out of its library, so be sure to check back next time you’re stuck in front of the Netflix home screen. Our latest update has added Blood and Bone, Hustle, Leave No Trace, Michael Clayton, and Unfriended.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

Image: New Line Home Video

The sensation that launched a franchise, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street lives on as a horror masterpiece decades later. Teenager Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends become the targets of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a deceased serial killer now haunting (and hunting) people in their dreams. As Nancy’s friends start dying in their sleep one by one, she tries desperately to stay awake to survive. A timeless slasher that might also keep you from sleeping, Elm Street and Krueger have staying power for a reason. —Pete Volk


Argo

Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez standing in a room of people with a script in his hand in Argo.

Image: Warner Home Video

Ben Affleck directs and stars in the 2012 historical thriller Argo as Tony Mendez, a CIA exfiltration specialist tasked with rescuing six former staff members of the American embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. His plan? Travel to Iran under the guise of a Hollywood producer working on a film based on Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, disguise the six hostages as his Canadian film crew, and safely rescue them before anyone discovers otherwise. Affleck’s film takes an unlikely but true story and turns it into a riveting drama powered by confident direction, terrific performances, and excellent editing. —Toussaint Egan


Baahubali: The Beginning

Baahubali: The Beginning - prabhas as baahubali carrying a giant fountain

Image: Dharma Productions

In Western terms, this Tollywood production, the most expensive Indian film at the time of its release, is like a biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. The Beginning chronicles the life of Shivudu, an adventurer with superhuman strength who escapes his provincial life by scaling a skyscraper-sized waterfall, aids and romances a rebel warrior named Avanthika, then teams up with her to rescue a kidnapped queen from an evil emperor. Exploding with hyper-choreographed fight sequences and CG spectacle (not to mention a handful of musical numbers with equal bravura), The Beginning is 159 minutes of mythical excess, going big like only Indian film can and resting on the muscular shoulders of its hero, the single-name actor Prabhas. If you fall hard for it, get pumped — this is only part one. The twist leads into Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, another two-and-a-half-hour epic currently streaming on Netflix. —Matt Patches


Blackhat

Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathaway holding a pistol in Blackhat.

Photo: Frank Connor/Legendary Pictures-Universal Pictures

A sleek and sexy thriller that makes hacking look extremely cool, Michael Mann’s unfairly maligned Blackhat stands tall as a high mark in digital filmmaking. It is peak Mann — if you’re not a fan of the Heat director’s work, your mileage may vary. In the film, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), a captain in the PLA’s cyber warfare unit, is tasked with getting to the bottom of a computer attack that melts down a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. While liaising with the FBI investigation, Chen insists on the aid of his old friend Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, who has never been hotter or cooler), an imprisoned genius hacker. When Hathaway and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei), a networking engineer also helping with the case, fall for each other, it adds an extra wrinkle to an already high stakes situation. Viola Davis and Holt McCallany feature as FBI agents who aren’t super happy to have to rely on a notorious criminal.

With sharp digital cinematography and unforgettable set pieces, Blackhat explores our changing global relationship to technology. Mann makes tangible the microscopic computer systems that run the world: an extreme close-up of internal wires leading to a motherboard like a vast interconnected highway; a computer fan that sounds like a jet engine. Events that in other films would be shown as a boring stroke of keys are instead depicted as hypnotic processes happening under the surface of the visible world. —PV


Blade Runner 2049

Ryan Gosling standing in front of a hologram in Blade Runner 2049.

Image: Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as Officer “K,” a Blade Runner in Los Angeles whose discovery of a mysterious grave leads him on a search to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former Blade Runner who may hold the key to a mystery whose answer could rock the very foundation of civilization as we know it. Set 30 years after the events of Blade Runner (1982), Villeneuve’s film resonates as powerfully as its predecessor, offering a sober glimpse at a world of dwindling resources and nascent climate catastrophe that feels like the natural outcome of the wanton technological excess of Ridley Scott’s original. Gosling is pitch-perfect in his portrayal of K, a replicant searching for a sense of meaning and purpose apart from the role he was intended for. With extravagant moody set pieces, beautiful lighting, tense action, and memorable performances from Ford, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, and more, Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy successor to one of the most defining works of sci-fi cinema ever produce and a masterpiece all its own. —TE


Blood and Bone

Michael Jai White kicks a man just so incredibly high in Blood and Bone, while Dante Basco looks on in awe.

Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Pure direct-to-video martial arts goodness, Blood and Bone is an excellent display of the action subgenre and of Michael Jai White’s unique talents as a movie star. From our list of the best action movies on Netflix:

Michael Jai White is a treasure around these parts and of the many excellent DTV action movies he has starred in, Blood and Bone may be the best. White is Isaiah Bone, an ex-marine martial artist recently out of prison, who meets an eccentric local fight promoter named Pinball (Dante Basco) and starts entering underground fights. When he falls deeper into the world of underground fighting, he learns just how far the powerful people who run the circuit will go to maintain their illegal business. With jaw-dropping fights featuring former professional fighters Bob Sapp, Kimbo Slice, and Matt Mullins, Blood and Bone is an appropriately stellar vehicle for White as a movie star and as a screen fighter. —PV


The Debt Collector

Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor as French and Sue in The Debt Collector.

Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A buddy comedy by way of direct-to-video action specialist Jesse V. Johnson, The Debt Collector is the first of a series of two very good movies starring Scott Adkins (Avengement) and Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as a wise-cracking duo collecting debts for the mob. Adkins plays French, a down-on-his-luck martial arts instructor who turns to debt collecting to pay his own debts off. Mandylor plays a boy named Sue, the veteran debt collector French is paired up with for his first day of work.

As the two get deeper into their work, they discover a scheme that puts a young child at risk, and consider risking it all themselves to help. Adkins and Mandylor have terrific chemistry in the lead roles, bringing this out of the echelon of “solid DTV movies” and into the realm of “great hangout flicks.” Also, Tony Todd (Candyman) plays a mobster named Barbosa. –PV


Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Image: Netflix

Johnnie To is one of our great modern directors, equally adept in hard-boiled triad crime dramas and light-hearted romantic comedies alike. 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart falls in the latter category, and is one of the many high marks of the Hong Kong director’s legendary career. Fresh off the end of a long-term relationship, Chi-yan (Gao Yuanyuan) is an analyst for an investment bank who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle. On one side, there’s Sean (Louis Koo), a CEO who works across the street from Chi-yan and yearns for her through the tall corporate glass windows that separate them. On the other, there’s Kevin (the always-dreamy Daniel Wu), an alcoholic former architect who helps Chi-yan move on and is inspired by her to start creating again. What follows is a sincere, funny, and truly charming romantic time. —PV


Fast Color

Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney) manifesting their powers in Fast Color.

Image: Lionsgate

Julia Hart’s 2018 superhero drama Fast Color stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror, Loki) as Ruth, a homeless wanderer with inexplicable powers who returns to her family home after years of hiding from the police. Reunited with her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and her young daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney), who both possess the same powers as her, Ruth attempts to regain control over her abilities and reconcile with Lila, all while eluding the authorities who seek to capture and study her. As we wrote in our review, Fast Color is less a “superhero” film as it is an intimate family drama set in a speculative universe à la 2016’s Midnight Special. The spectacle on display is not the manifestation of Ruth’s powers, but in the masterful trio of performances at its center combining to create a story as poignant as it is exhilarating. —TE


Gattaca

Ethan Hawke as Vincent Anton in Gattaca

Image: Columbia Pictures

Andrew Niccol has never made a better film than Gattaca, period. The director has dabbled with visually impressive sci-fi dystopias in films like 2011’s In Time or 2018’s Anon, but neither of those have managed to surpass that sheer lightning-in-a-bottle ingenuity of his directorial debut. Set in a future “not too distant” from our own, Niccol’s film stars Ethan Hawke as Vincent Freeman, a supposedly “inferior” man born into a society defined by a eugenically organized caste system who yearns to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut. Defying the institutional roadblocks of his time, Vincent assumes the identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law), a eugenically exceptional athlete, in order to work as navigator at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. When Gattaca’s administrator is mysteriously killed just days before Vincent’s mission to Titan, he’ll have to elude the suspicions of the investigators tasked with solving the murder as well as those of his co-worker Irene Cassini (Uma Thurman). With a brilliantly evocative score composed by Michael Nyman, a powerful, animating trio of performances by Hawke, Thurman, and Law, and an impeccably stylish retro-futuristic aesthetic, Gattaca is soul-stirring science fiction. —TE


Goodfellas

Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci sitting at a bar smoking cigarettes in Goodfellas.

Image: Warner Bros.

One of Martin Scorsese’s most celebrated and memorable films, and possibly his last unimpeachable classic, Goodfellas charts the rise and fall of a wannabe gangster who works his way into the Mob in 1950s Brooklyn, then finds the organization’s focus and fortunes changing radically over the decades that follow. Packed with storytelling devices that Scorsese went on to repeat over and over — particularly the monologue-voiceover introduction of a whole pack of colorful gangster characters who don’t much matter — Goodfellas is full of indelible dialogue and familiar comic bits (“I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?”), it’s the sprawling saga of a criminal watching the world change around him until he doesn’t recognize it anymore, made before any of these tropes, lines, and devices became cliches because so many people imitated Goodfellas. —Tasha Robinson


Hustle

Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz and Adam Sandler as Stanley Sugerman sit together in Hustle, with Cruz splayed over multiple rows of seats.

Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix

One of Netflix’s better originals in recent memory is this passion project from the famously basketball-obsessed Adam Sandler, where he plays a down-on-his-luck scout who needs to find the perfect prospect. With an all-star ensemble cast filled with movie stars (Sandler is joined by Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, and Robert Duvall) and NBA players alike (Juancho Hernangómez co-leads with Sandler, while Anthony Edwards, Boban Marjanović, and others give memorable supporting turns), Hustle is an inspiring and thrilling basketball movie made by people who love the game. —PV


The Ip Man movies

Donnie Yen as Ip Man

Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

All five movies in the Ip Man series — the four main entries (all on Netflix) and the spinoff Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (not on Netflix, but on Peacock and Tubi, among others) — are terrific martial arts dramas. They’re a great starting place for anyone looking to get into the genre, and also a terrific comfort watch for enthusiasts of martial arts movies.

Donnie Yen completely immerses himself as the stoic Ip Man, the Wing Chun grandmaster who taught Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan Kwok-kwan in the series), among others. Yen brings a pensiveness to the role to go with his incredible martial arts prowess. All four movies are directed by frequent Yen collaborator Wilson Yip and go from one all-time great action choreographer to another: The first two movies had action by Sammo Hung, and the next two by Yuen Woo-ping. Those are quite possibly the two greatest to ever do it, and if that’s not enough to get you to tune in, I don’t know what is. —PV


Lagaan

Aamir Khan dances with Gracy Singh in Lagaan.

Image: SET Pictures

Ashutosh Gowariker’s timeless sports classic stars Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a confident young man from a village that is dealing with both British oppression and a long-standing drought. When the wicked Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is deliriously good in this) challenges the village to a game of cricket (which they do not know how to play) as a bet, with their owed taxes (which they cannot afford to pay) on the line, Bhuvan takes it upon himself to form a team and learn the game. What follows is a soaring sports drama with humor, heart, and a show-stopping match finale. Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. —PV


Leave No Trace

Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster in Leave No Trace.

Image: Bleecker Street Media

One of the best films of the 2010s, Debra Granik’s meditation on the modern world through two people isolated from it is an extraordinary follow-up for the Winter’s Bone director. From our write-up of the best movies new to streaming in July:

An Iraq War veteran (Ben Foster) lives with PTSD and his 13-year-old daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) in the lush green woods outside of Portland, Oregon. Isolated from the rest of society, they work together to live a life with nature. But when the young girl is seen by a jogger in the woods, she is detained by social services and her father is arrested. A touching story about finding your own place in the world and the comforts and limitations of family, Debra Granik’s 2018 drama is a modern masterpiece.


Lost Bullet

Alban Lenoir as Lino peeling around a corner in his red muscle car in Lost Bullet.

Image: Netflix

This French crime thriller executes a simple premise to absolute perfection. Lino (former stunt man Alban Lenoir) is an expert mechanic forced to work for dirty cops. When he’s framed for a murder he did not commit, he has to find the one thing that can prove his innocence: a lost bullet in a missing car. With high-octane action sequences and great car stunts, this is a 92-minute thrill ride through and through. —PV


Margin Call

Jeremy Irons as CEO John Tuld in Margin Call.

Image: Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment

J.C. Chandor’s 2011 film Margin Call takes place over the span of 24 hours, following the employees of a prestigious Wall Street investment bank as they struggle to understand and respond to what will eventually be known as the global financial crisis of 2008. While perhaps not as approachable or didactic as Adam McKay’s The Big Short, Chandor’s film nonetheless manages to transform financial esotericism into riveting drama through the strength of its casts’ performances. Paul Bettany is terrific here, as are Zachary Quinto and Demi Moore, but the standout performance by far is Jeremy Irons, who delivers a remarkable scene during the film’s climax that’s as charismatic as it is disquietingly chilling. —TE


Michael Clayton

Tom Wilkinson surrounded by advertisements in Times Square in Michael Clayton.

Image: Warner Home Video

This taut legal thriller leaves Netflix at the end of the month, so catch it while you can (we’ll have a full list of the best movies to watch before they leave closer to the month’s end). From our list of the best thrillers you can watch at home:

One of George Clooney’s greatest performances, Michael Clayton was the directorial debut of Tony Gilroy (writer of the first four Bourne movies and co-writer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Michael Clayton (Clooney) is an off-the-books attorney who acts as a fixer for the rich and powerful. After Arthur (Tom Wilkinson), another attorney at his firm, has a breakdown during a deposition for a class-action lawsuit against an agricultural company, Michael is assigned to bail Arthur out of jail and help him get his act together. As Michael learns more about the truth of the lawsuit and drastic events pile up, legal thriller quickly transforms into conspiracy thriller in an instant classic. —PV


The Night Comes For Us

Joe Taslim stands in front of a “Safety starts with me” sign touting a shotgun facing several men on fire in The Night Comes for Us.

Photo: Eriekn Juragan/Netflix

The Night Comes for Us just fucking whips, OK? Why waste time on subtlety and preamble; the film certainly doesn’t! Indonesian action thrillers have been enjoying a renaissance period ever since Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid kicked the door down and mollywhopped everything else in sight. Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 film certainly follows in the footsteps of Evans’ own, with The Raid star Joe Taslim starring here as Ito, a gangland enforcer who betrays his Triad crime family by sparing the life of a child and attempting to flee the country. Fellow The Raid star Iko Uwais shows up here as Arian, Ito’s childhood friend and fellow enforcer, who is tasked with hunting down Ito and recovering the girl. The action comes fast and frenzied here, with kinetic choreography and dazzling handheld cinematography that makes every punch, fall, and stab count. If you need to get your adrenaline pumping, throw this one on. —TE


Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis “Lou” Bloom holding a camera behind an overturned car in Nightcrawler.

Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the neo-noir thriller Nightcrawler as Lou, an unscrupulous hustler who muscles into the cutthroat world of freelance crime journalism. As his reputation grows, Lou resorts to ever more malicious and unethical means to stay on top and one step ahead of his competition. The unambiguous portrayal of Lou’s sociopathic tendencies is a key focus of the film, with his aforementioned behaviors being directly linked to his success as a so-called nightcrawler. With beautiful nighttime cinematography, tense action, and a career-best performance by Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler is a stunning and unsettling film that will stick with you long after it’s over. —TE


Paddington

Paddington standing in front of his namesake: a subway sign for Paddington station in Paddington (2014).

Image: StudioCanal

2014’s Paddington is as whimsical and earnest as it is inventive and surprising. Ben Whishaw stars as the Peruvian bear cub who stows aboard a lifeboat to London in search of a new home. Granted safe haven by the kindly Brown family, Paddington sets out in search for the explorer who long ago visited his homeland and befriended his family while eluding the many perils and pitfalls of the big city.

Nicole Kidman and Peter Calpadi deliver devilishly charming performances as the film’s antagonists, while Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville are equally noteworthy as the vivacious Mrs. Brown and her stuffy risk-averse husband. Complete with sharp writing, intriguing set pieces, and loads of creative physical comedy, Paddington is an absolute delight. —TE


The Paper Tigers

Ron Yuan and Ray Hopper in The Paper Tigers

Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

Tran Quoc Bao’s kung fu action comedy stars Alain Uy, Ron Yuan (Mulan), and Mykel Shannon Jenkins as the eponymous Paper Tigers: three former martial arts prodigies who, after a lifetime of strenuous training and hard fighting, have grown into beleaguered middle-aged nobodies. But when their master is murdered, the three swear an oath to avenge his memory and bring his killer to justice. If that sounds serious, please know this falls into the Apatowian camp of Dumb Man comedy. —TE


Phantom Thread

Reyolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) sizing up a dress on Alma (Vicky Krieps) in Phantom Thread.

Image: Focus Features

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 historical drama Phantom Thread follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), an irascible haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London whose carefully cultivated lifestyle is upset by his ongoing love affair with his muse Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed woman with ambitions and desires of her own. His final film role to date, Day-Lewis is unsurprisingly masterful in his portrayal of Woodcock as an artist whose capricious infatuations and fastidious inflexibility prove unbearable to all except Alma, who discovers a … let’s say unconventional way of leveling the power dynamic in their relationship. Top that with exquisite score by Jonny Greenwood and beautiful costume designs by Mark Bridges and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of Anderson’s finest films to date. —TE


RRR

Rama and Bheem are tossed in the air by the crowd in RRR.

Image: Variance Films

One of our favorite movies of the year, RRR is an epic bromance for the ages filled to the brim with jaw-dropping action sequences, unforgettable music numbers, and two guys just being dudes. If you can, you should consider watching it in the original Telugu language version on Zee5. If you can’t, the Hindi dub on Netflix is still well worth your time. —PV


Starship Troopers

Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico in Starship Troopers.

Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A satirical adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel of the same name, Paul Verhoeven’s biting 1997 sci-fi film Starship Troopers takes place in a far-off future where the Federation, a fascistic military organization that rules the Earth through a planetwide system of mandatory conscription, instigates a full-scale war against a fearsome race of giant alien insects. Though derided when it was first released, the film has experienced a reappraisal in the decades since to such a point that it’s now championed as one of the best and most perceptive science fiction films of its era. Would you like to know more? —TE


The Talented Mr. Ripley

Marge (Paltrow) and Dickie (Law) embrace as Ripley (Damon) stands next to them.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Matt Damon stars in The Talented Mr. Ripley as Tom Ripley, an underachiever with an unsettling knack for deceiving others. After being mistaken for an old Princeton classmate of Dickie (Jude Law), a wealthy socialite living in Italy, Tom is hired by Dickie’s father to retrieve his son in exchange for $1,000. In befriending Dickie and his fiancé, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), Tom’s ever-evolving grift morphs into a twisted love-hate obsession with Dickie and his lifestyle, a life which Tom will resort to anything — anything — to possess.

With a brilliant performance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dickie’s lewd, boisterous, and uncannily perceptive friend Freddie and terrific supporting performances by Cate Blanchett and Jack Davenport, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a tense, emotional thriller whose labyrinthine twists and turns will have you rooting for a monster. —TE


Unfriended

The kids in Unfriended play Never Have I Ever.

Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Unfriended is a horror movie with a gimmick. The whole thing takes place on a laptop screen, as the action unfolds over a Skype call between a group of friends. When an unknown (and unseen) participant mysteriously joins the call, friends start to die one by one in a terrifying and captivating series of events. The immersion of Unfriended through the device of the computer screen is masterful, and I highly recommend watching it on a laptop if you can for maximum effect. —PV

From our list of the best horror movies on Netflix:

Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended pulls the audiences through the screen — almost literally. Viewed entirely from the perspective of a computer desktop, 2014 supernatural horror film centers around a Skype call between a group of high school students who are joined by an unknown presence known only as “billie227.” What at first appears to be a prank swiftly morphs into something much more horrific, as the mysterious stranger begins to reveal terrifying secrets about each of the friends before killing them off one by one. Unfriended is thoroughly gripping extrapolation of our always-online world; a world where vengeful poltergeists and doxxing exist side-by-side and no secret or offense goes undiscovered or unpunished. —TE

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